West Indies tour of Pakistan postponed due to smog and security issues
What's the story?
Relentless smog as well as security concerns have dashed Pakistan's hopes of hosting West Indies for a 3-match T20I series in Lahore. The tour, which was originally slated to take place this year, has now been postponed until at least next year.
With harsh weather conditions in the city affecting visibility levels, the availability of senior West Indies players as well as apprehension regarding security have resulted in the series being deferred.
"The West Indies series has been postponed until next year for a number of reasons. The main reason is that weather conditions in Lahore right now make it impossible for cricket to take place. Even domestic matches for the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy have been disturbed so the PCB have decided to delay the series. A few of the players are unavailable at the moment and there have also been concerns about security", a senior Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told The Express Tribune.
Heavy and persistent smog is causing accidents in Lahore during the course of the last few days. While operations at the airport have been temporarily suspended, certain sections of the motorway remain closed due to consternating visibility levels in and around the grand old city.
The heart of the matter
After successfully hosting the final game of the 3-match T20I series against Sri Lanka at the fabled Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan had been gearing up to invite West Indies for a full series in the shortest format of the game.
Dave Cameron, Cricket West Indies (CWI) President, had visited Pakistan to keep track of the security arrangements for the team's visit. However, he had categorically refused to provide any guarantee on the prospect of sending a full strength team.
With the vast majority of leading Caribbean players currently participating in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), their availability was always going to be an issue. In addition to that, the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo were reportedly having security concerns on visiting Pakistan. A combination of both reasons as well as prevailing smog in Lahore have forced PCB to postpone the tour.
West Indies are scheduled to visit New Zealand for a tour comprising of 2 Tests, 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is between December 1 and January 3.
On the other hand, Pakistan do not have any fixtures lined up until their trip to New Zealand for 5 ODIs and 3 T20Is. The tour is slated to take place between January 6 and 28.
Needless to say, the postponement of the West Indies series will be a huge dampener for the passionate cricket fans in Pakistan who have been patiently waiting for a full length series involving a high-profile international team.
Hopefully, the smog situation in Lahore clears in the coming days without causing further difficulty to the people of Pakistan.